We are thrilled to introduce you to our Medical Director, Dr. Katie Gray, DVM, who oversees all medical activities in our spay, neuter, and vaccination clinic in St. George. Dr. Gray is originally from Minnesota where she graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in April 2011. While in veterinary school she planned and implemented a humane education program for grades 1-4. She then completed a small animal rotating internship at Texas A&M University. She moved to Oregon in 2013 and was the Medical Director at the Bend Spay and Neuter Project and practiced high volume spay/neuter for 6 years before moving to Utah in 2020.
Additionally, Dr. Gray received training in high-volume, high-quality spay/neuter at both Emancipet in Austin, TX, and Humane Alliance in Asheville, NC. She has directed and participated in numerous MASH spay/neuter clinics including monthly free clinics at the Warm Springs reservation in Oregon. She has three Great Pyrenees rescue dogs who are all “couch potatoes” and a one-eared rescue cat.
In early 2022, Dr. Gray sat down with a member of our team to shed light on her goals for HSU’s St. George clinic, the current challenges she’s facing, and how HSU is working to find solutions.
What is your overall goal and vision as the Medical Director for our new St. George clinic?
Dr. Gray: My goal is always to provide excellent patient care, ensuring that any patient (shelter, owned, and TNR cats) that comes through our doors is treated with the highest level of care and has the least stressful experience possible. In our first year of operations, we completed 3,265 spay/neuter surgeries including 360 community cat TNR surgeries and I would like to see this number continue to grow each year we are open in order to help prevent overpopulation and lessen the number of animals entering the shelters and rescues in the area.
Can you provide specifics on what you’d like to contribute to our St. George clinic as the Medical Director?
Dr. Gray: I would like to contribute leadership that fosters a positive environment for our staff and for the clients and patients we serve. A strong, cohesive team is key to being able to make an impact in the community and serve as many animals as possible.
What are some of the positive aspects of the animal welfare community in St. George?
Dr. Gray: The animal welfare community in St. George, but also in the surrounding areas has been wonderful to work with! We are lucky to have so many shelters and rescues in the area that care so deeply about animals. Because of this, we have been able to make much more of an impact in the community.
What are some challenges currently facing St. George’s animal welfare community and what are some potential solutions to these challenges?
One of the largest challenges in the area when we first got here was the ability for shelters and rescues to obtain affordable and timely spay/neuter surgeries. We were able to work with all the rescues and shelters with their schedules to provide affordable surgeries for animals on an as-needed basis as best as we can accommodate sometimes with same-day notice.
The other large challenge is that Washington County has the most pet shops of any county in all of Utah and all of them source puppies from puppy mills. Many pet shop dogs end up in shelters because of behavioral problems resulting from a lack of necessary socialization and unexpected illnesses that owners are unaware of at the time of purchase. A solution to this issue would be to pass a local or state ordinance that would ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops where they could instead showcase adoptable dogs and cats from local shelters/rescues or hold adoption events with shelters/rescues in their shop space as well as selling pet supplies to the adopters.
What do you enjoy about living in St. George?
St. George is a beautiful city and I love being so close to so many national parks. My husband and I regularly visit and hike (with our dogs) on many different trails.
Where do you hope our spay, neuter, and vaccine St. George clinic will be in 2-3 years?
I hope that we are continuing to provide our current services as well as offering some new services for affordable prices in order to provide even more access to basic care for animals in the community.
What do you enjoy most about working with and supporting animals?
I was one of those animal people that said I was going to be a veterinarian since I was 2 or 3 years old. I love working with animals and being able to help in any way that I can. I have a passion for shelter work and TNR as it allows me to take care of animals that no one else may be looking out for and hopefully improving their lives and helping to find them homes.